There are times when Kurtis Blow The Breaks might just be my favourite ever rap track, my favourite single and my favourite ever record with a yellow cover.  Tonight is one of those times. 

I wore that exact same outfit to work today. True story.

Where can one start with anything this great? Okay lets hit up the music first which was all played and not a bastardized sample of the Doobie Brothers, as has been rumoured.  It’s funky, percussive and very fresh sounding, I really love the drums which give the whole thing a bit of a disco and Salsoul flavour; not to mention some great keys later on in the track.

In awesome the-medium-is-the-message style delivery there are no less than 6 separate break down sections in The Breaks; how incredible is that? as a dancey man, were I ever at anywhere cool enough to play this, I would have 6 separate opportunities to both enchant the opposite sex  and to intimidate potential love rivals. True story.

I absolutely love this Mercury Records label

Kurtis’ lyrics are brilliant, exactly clever enough and stupid enough to hit the bullseye.  Who knew you could have so much fun with all the meanings of the word ‘breaks’?  Kurtis, that’s who.  Overall he mentions ‘breaks’ or derivations thereof no less than 84 times in seven-and-a-half minutes, without ever hitting the brakes.

The Breaks is also a very funny record too and that’s why I think I hold it so dear.  I’ve always been with Zappa on the whole ‘does music belong in humour’ thang. 

You say last week you met the perfect guy 
(That's the breaks, that's the breaks) 
And he promised you the stars in the sky 
He said his Cadilac was gold But he didn't say it was ten years old He took you out to the Red Coach grill 
But he forgot the cash and you paid the bill 
And he told you the story of his life 
But he forgot the part about his wife! 

Overall there is just something tremendously positive and endearingly life-affirming about The Breaks.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good gothic wallow and a hardcore raging shouty-shout-shout as much as, or even more, than the next person but music like this makes me happy to be alive.  Listening to it is like receiving a postcard from a happier, simpler, more brightly coloured time than ours. 

The B-side is an instrumental version of The Breaks.  My son and I, he very reluctantly, me very enthusiastically just had a go at rapping it out.  I think I was quite brilliant at it, he needs to work on his delivery. It is well worth a listen because you can really appreciate just how great the backing track is.  You get the impression Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers would have been proud to have claimed this one, I can think of no higher praise.

Not bad for another record I liberated from my dad’s shed.  In his defence, someone gave it to him and he’s not very fussed on rap. 

The Breaks is a classic single and all.  Now if you were looking for additional reasons to love it let’s face it nobody rocks a hounds tooth jacket as well as Kurtis does on the cover.  Now if he was only wearing matching trousers too … that’s the breeks, that’s the breeks …

932 (Break) Down.

15 thoughts on “Eighty Four Times In Seven And A Half Minutes

  1. I had a buddy who was KB crazy. I think he was the only guy guy I knew who dug this stuff. Back when it was first released. He lean’t me an album and i put it on cassette. I’ll never forget it because of the cut ‘Magilla Gorilla’

  2. I always loved this LP (his first, self-titled one). As far as I know all the instruments were played live – no samples. Most of it is very good…and when it’s bad, it’s hilariously bad. I wish there were more rap albums like it.

    1. I have never heard the LPs at all, just the singles. It’s funny isn’t it, the live instrumentation, in another 15 years bands like The Goats and The Beastie Boys were claiming that as their new thing in hip-hop.

      This really is just one of my favourite singles ever, period. Mind you EPMD’s ‘Strictly Business’ runs it quite close.

  3. What a great era!

    With a hip hop the hippie the hippie
    To the hip hip hop and you don’t stop
    The rock it to the bang bang boogie
    Say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

    The Mercury label screams RUSH to me…

    1. I know there was so much fun in the genre then; the joy of making something completely new, away from any commercial pressure?

      It’s a little-known fact that hip hop is a Welsh invention. We don’t like to make too much of a fuss about it, it’s not in our natures. True story.

  4. Ah, that takes me back. This song came out when I was in the service and all my African American comrades in arms would all be playing this in the barracks, so I couldn’t help but listen to it. The lyrics have always been very amusing.

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